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October Featured Business: Don's Original

by Josie Weber

Congratulations to Don's Original for being the Irondequoit Chamber of Commerce's choice in October for Business of the Month! For over 70 years, the home of the famous “Original Ground Steak Sandwich" has been proudly serving the Irondequoit community.

In 1945, Donald J. Barbato and Robert Berl opened the Seabreeze “roadside hot dog stand" under the name Don & Bob's. After owning multiple business locations Barbato re-branded the iconic Seabreeze restaurant in 1973 under a new name and Don's Original was born.

Current owner, Terry Klee of Pittsford, has owned Don's Original for 27 years and offers the same dedication and commitment to the brand as its original owners. In fact, Klee began working for the Barbato family at their Brighton location as a teenager back in 1974. Klee's current manager, Oscar Herrera of Irondequoit, has worked at Don's Original for 17 years himself. Over the course of the year the establishment employees 15-30 people depending on the season but it's the customers that keep Klee so invested in his business.

"We're a landmark hot dog stand," Klee says describing his Seabreeze location. “We have a lot of die-hard, loyal customers…it's a nostalgic kind of place".
Klee has a great sense of humor joking that if he could be anything else he would be “smart" and if he were younger he would expand again. Customers of Don's Original are happy with Klee keeping 73 years of tradition alive in Irondequoit with the hopes of many more to come.

Klee is active in the Irondequoit community, giving back to those he serves. He supports school groups and events like the Eastridge High School Band, as well as local youth sports. Klee's biggest involvement, however, is running the kitchen for the Catholic Family Center's Empty Bowls Dinner. This simple soup and bread dinner raises funds to benefit the homeless and women's shelters in Rochester.

Don's Original is located at 4900 Culver Road, in the Sea Breeze area of Irondequoit. Check out more of their story and their menu online or call in an order at (585) 323-1177. You can also find them on Facebook.